Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Road Less Traveled

This weekend I went to Wease's.
A random selection from Wease's book shelf

She is a former carriage driver who lives in Northern Utah, just this side of the Potato Curtain. That would be Idaho, to you non-Utahan's.

Here is the Ward House* across from Wease's house on Friday afternoon:

Friday, upon my arrival, we went into Logan for Indian food, which was delicious. I caught Wease up on all the recent happenings at the barn, including Kid's retirement and subsequent return by the Hippotherapy** program. Then we returned to Wease's and played Guitar Hero Rock Band, or something to that effect, and drank wine.
My friends are gamers, I am not.

Much of the day I got "The Stare" from Wease's pack-o-dogs.

This is Kahlua.

"Lassen Sie mich in Ruhe!"

She speaks with a German accent and is always trying to think up ways of getting around the rules. We, as a race of humans, are lucky that she is not taller, or has opposable thumbs. Either would be very bad. Both would be the Apocalypse.

Belle is the social butterfly, but only in the sense that the hostess at Denny's is really glad to see you. Happy you've come, glad you like the food, now pay the damn bill, tip your waitress, and go. Belle likes to administer the random lick in passing just to remind you 1) she knows you are here 2) all the toys in the house belong to her and 3) if you try to steal any when you leave she will remember your DNA and unleash the hounds of hell to hunt you down.

Rosie is my favorite because, like me, she's old.

She sleeps a lot. She's cool. She spends a lot of time watching the other two dogs and rolling her eyes.

Saturday morning we had to deliver a gift to a friend who'd just had a baby. Neither Wease nor I are big fans of babies. Given the choice I'd rather play with someone's rabid puppy. Or cuddle a wolverine kitten. So I volunteered to stay in the Jeep, motor running, as a good excuse for Wease not to have to go inside and possibly be forced to actually look at or even (shudder) hold the baby. We were both pleased to find the friend not home, and Wease left the bag on the front porch.

Her friend lives outside of Preston, Idaho, a quarter mile from the house that Napoleon Dynamite "lived" in. So here, for your viewing pleasure, is proof that it is a real house. And for those of you without a strong grip on reality, there is no Napolitano Dynamite, and this is not really his house. I'm sure that the people who live there are so happy to have random a** holes drive down their street and take pictures of their house. And if they didn't know, then they should sue their realtor: It's called disclosure, like meth labs and mold.

In the afternoon Wease had friends over and we played Rummykub. It's an addiction within our circle of friends and everyone has a set. It's kind of our secret shame. But we have fun, and of course Wease cheats. But I call her on it and everyone knows she cheats.

After we played Rummykub, we went to see "Bedtime Stories" at the cheap show in Lewiston. The theater is old but it only costs $2 which was good because not only was the sound messed up but the non-stadium seating means anyone older than a grade schooler blocks my view. I, naturally, ended up sitting behind Shaquille O'Neil's sister. So most of the film I watched the back of a woman's head. But I'm used to that.
Inside the Lewiston Cinema

I knew it was supposed to snow on Sunday but I thought it wasn't supposed to come in until later. So, I was going to beat it using my Rocket Car, and be home Sunday afternoon. By 7:15 Sunday morning, when I could no longer take staring at the cracks in the guest room's ceiling, I looked out the window.

Overcast, but nothing else.

By 8:00am, when the freshly brewed coffee finally lured me out of bed, there was a blizzard. Now, remember that ward house? Here it is Sunday morning.

Stupid snow.

But it was okay because, you see, I don't have a "real" job, so it's not like *someone* would expect me to be at my desk/station/the Tilt-a-Whirl controls; asking "How may I direct your call?"/"Is there anything else I can do for you today, Mr. Clooney?"/ Would you like fries with that?"; dressed in a Hazmat Suit/Deep Sea Diving rig/Pasties and a g-string. So, staying an extra day is no problem.

Poor little Jeep

This gave us the opportunity to discuss Kid's retirement problem further; Wease is a horse person. She currently has two, with a young 'un on the way. She has always liked Kid, and decided that she wanted him to spend the rest of his days with her mares, going on the occasional trail ride in the mountains. She also has two carts, one of which would be perfect to hitch Kid to and be-bop around town in. So she left a message for the carriage company owner and waited for a call back to determine the outcome. During a break in the weather we scampered over to Wal-Mart where I bought dinner fixins' and the movies "Quantum of Solace" and "Bolt." We also played more Rummykub, and discussed Kid.

Monday I headed for home, braving the slippery slope that is Sardine Canyon after a snow storm. Which. Was. Not. Fun. Outside of Brigham City I got a call from Ro, barn manager extraordinaire. She'd talked to Wease earlier in the morning and wanted my input before she approached the barn owners about sending Kid to live with Wease. I gave her my stamp of approval.

Now Kid's got a new home. With Wease.

Ro kissing Kid goodbye

And we all lived happily ever after.

*A Ward House is where Mormons to church.

**For you non-horsey people, outside of the "Equine" family, (horses, donkeys, etc. this group is known as the even toed ungulates ((Perissodactyls)) because their feet have three or, as in the case of modern horses, one toe) the closest relative is the Hippopotamus. The study of horses is called Hippology. Weird, huh?

Monday, March 30, 2009

It's being written as we speak...

Yes, I know. Sorry, I've been gone, away to a land with no internet access. I'm writing it now, expect it tomorrow.

Thanks for playing.

In the meantime, feel free to discuss this photo:

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

News Flash

Well, okay, it's not exactly news, but those of you who read my drivel regularly will be pleased to know that on Sunday I "won" a camera on eBay and it arrived today (which must have set a world's record for eBay stuff shipped to me) and I think you will agree that the difference in the picture quality is pretty substantial. Mostly it will be evident in medium to long/wide shots. When my kid hoards her nice Olympus camera I end up using my Sony Handycam for pictures. Now, as a camcorder it's okay, but as a camera it sucks.

Here, for example, is one of my Susie Morton plates:

Sony Handycam

Olympus FE-20

And one of my favorite finds (2004, West Yellowstone, WY) my drunken horse wine bottle holder:
Sony Handycam

Olympus FE-20

Sony Handycam

Olympus FE-20

I think you'll be please. You may not go out and celebrate, but if you do, have one for me.

So to paraphrase the great Nez Perce Chief Joseph, "From where the sun now stands, I will use my cell phone's camera no more forever."

PS: And, for an actual "News Flash" Kid, who was retired to a Hippotherapy program a week or so ago, came back because he was "too tall". Now, for those of you who have never actually met Kid, to say that he is too tall is like calling me svelte.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Stan Plan B

Stan, the name I've given to the sarcoid tumor blob which has taken up residence on my horse Dreamer, has proven to be a tenacious little sucker.

Buzz, Dreamer's vet, has been giving Stan the "Liquid Nitrogen Delight" Spa Treatment for several weeks now, and the result has been a larger, redder, angrier looking tumor than the Stan with which we began this odyssey.

Obviously, Stan is being quite uncooperative. Dreamer aint too happy about the entire operation, either, but since most of the time he spends with us he's under sedation, it's not that big of a deal.

Today, after examining the post popsicle Stan, Buzz and I decided to change tactics. We're ditching the freezing and moving on to an ointment. Enter XXTERRA. It doesn't list the ingredients so it must be made of fairy dust, red dye #2, and Vaseline. At least that's what it looks like. It's high cost is due to the inactive ingredients of Diamonds, Gold, and Imported Virgin's Saliva.

So, first Buzz gloved up and peeled as much of the crusty, bloody junk off of Stan as he could get. Then he dug around in the pus for a while. (Oh, I'm sorry, were you eating? If you've been here before you should know better by now. That'll learn ya. If you haven't then I'm sorry, but that'll learn ya.) Then he poked around, probably just to get Dreamer good and pissed off, (maybe horse anger is one of the catalysts to make the Xxterra more effective) and after getting Dreamer all riled up he applied the reddish goo all over Stan.

Now we wait.

I also got a small bottle of what Buzz said was Formaldehyde but I think it's Formalin. Anyway, it's another alternative Buzz came up with, although it's labor intensive, meaning I have to go to the barn every day and apply it to his leg. I'm going to try it on the backside of Stan. The scaly skin wraps ¾ way around Dreamers leg but the stuff on the backside has never been much of an issue except for its gross and ugly appearance. So we'll be running a little clinical trial of our own to see if the Formalin will do it any good.

In the event that neither of these treatments make an improvement in reducing Stan to an acceptable size, I might take one of my kids Breyer horses, make a "Stan" out of red Play-Doh, and start sticking pins in it. Kind of a Voodoo Stan.

Then, we'll move on to Holy Water.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Better One, or…Two

I've previously mentioned my obsession with horses and how it carries over into my interior decorating. For one thing it makes me a very easy person to purchase gifts for; horse, realistic looking, preferably minus people, and not overly expensive. The last part being because my genetic makeup is similar to that of Bull+china shop=me+delicate expensive chotchkies.

None of my family will ever be graced with, well, grace. We're more the solid, sturdy, Neolithic, help-a-friend move their piano kind of people than the stylish, flowing, elfin, ballroom dance kind of people. Except my mother; she traveled to Argentina to Tango when she was 75. Maybe I'll pick up some coordination as I age, but it's highly unlikely.

On Saturday, Mr. Slave Driver gave in to my haranguing and we went to a so called "Starving Artist Sale." Here it's held about once every four months at the downtown Sheridan. We arrived and perused several hundred oil paintings, many of which were renditions of the same theme with subtle changes. I found only four that included horses. One was an image of a race horse flying down the home stretch. To me it appeared said Thoroughbred was finishing the race on its knees, but that's what I get for having actually witnessed the "Sport of Kings", Arlington Park being a favorite haunt of mine. I share boarded a 17 hand, off the track, race horse once. His name was Tillingbourn. He knew how to do two things well; make wide left turns, and run like hell when the arena phone rang. Eventually he was donated to the Chicago Police Department. I don't know how his new career panned out, but it had to be an improvement from his track record.

Anyhoo, we pawed through hundreds of oil paintings and finally I found one that was acceptable: horses running through water with mountains in the background. Not too big, not too small, like Goldilocks and her uninhibited trashing of the Three Bear's house, it was just right.

So now here is the dilemma, and you get to weigh in; where shall I hang it?

Above the fireplace?

Or, over the entertainment center?

Like the optometrist asks, is it better one,



I know, currently it is without a frame, but Mr. Slave Driver has both the tools and the ability to make a wooden frame for it, and the one I like is Mission style, similar to my living room furniture. Giving him these tedious tasks keeps him off the streets and out of trouble. Plus he likes them, sometimes. Or else he just does it to humor me.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Why I Should Be the Sego Lily Blogger

I read the newspaper daily, and often times cut out random tidbits I want to keep for future reference. My office frequently looks like it's been the recipient of a ticker–tape parade, with all the newsprint confetti scattered about. So it was not unlike me to cut out a blurb about the Sego Lily Day Spa contest.

Usually I read the articles once and "file" them (if you call setting them down somewhere in my office "filing") and during my yearly frenzy to clean out the piles of junk I throw them away, usually not remembering what the initial reason for removing them from the paper was to begin with. I guess that's what I get for killing off all of those brain cells with fermented grapes.

But this snippet was different. This snippet was to me what the Holy Grail was to Monty Python the zealots who participated in the Crusades.

This snippet brings with it the possibility of winning a prize. Spa treatments for a year, and the luxury of blogging about them!


For the uninitiated, most of what I write has to do with life here in the beautiful Salt Lake Valley where I live. I blog about everything from inane information about carriage driving, volunteering for the Sundance Film festival, the mysterious tumor on my horses leg I've named "Stan", to the amount of cold weather apparel I haul around on my carriage with me to stay warm and dry during winter. Random, senseless, eclectic stuff that will never be considered great literature. Although the blog about Cletus and his urination issues seems to be a crowd pleasing favorite. Go figure.

I will never be mistaken for a "girley girl." In my life I have had one massage. It was a gift from The Husband several years ago, and I enjoyed it. Okay, the term "enjoyed" is not definitive enough. I relished that puppy like a junkie getting their fix. The ambiance, the delicious aroma of the scented candles, the warmth of the room and muted sounds of gently flowing water...I was so relaxed I left the spa with an overwhelming feeling of having just melted into a puddle. I believe they carried me out to my car in a bucket.

I ski, I lift weights, I ride my bike when the tires aren’t flat. I work in the yard, and have a job that is physically demanding. Let's face it, if you can't pull a 400 pound carriage out of the barn you're just not qualified to do what I do. Not to mention the standing is hard on your feet and your back, the weather is tough on your skin, and the boredom turns the brain to mush. So the idea of being able to leave the hectic and demanding daily grind behind me for a weekly treat of luxurious pampering is…intoxicating.

My other job, the writing gig, I find mentally taxing, and often when my family thinks I'm sleeping or otherwise in a prone and sluggish position, I am actually "thinking", running a scene in my head with my eyes closed and the iTunes cranked. So even when it appears I am "relaxing" I'm really "working", such as it is.

So, entering in a contest where the outcome allows one to relax and feel good then write about the experience is appealing. The rules are simple; to enter the contest you have to blog about why you should be selected as the Sego Lily Day Spa Blogger, and you know what?

I just did. :)

Sego Lily Day Spa Blog Contest

Psst- eventually when the finalists are chosen you, dear constant reader, get to vote for the winner. You know, just like American Idol, but without all the wardrobe changes...

Monday, March 16, 2009

Right Place, Right Time


That's an acronym I use sometimes at work. Actually, we use a LOT of acronyms. (No, LOT is not an acronym) Here are a few:

LA Little America
GA Grand America
DRB's Dirty Rat Bastards
COB Church Office Building
JSB Joseph Smith Memorial Building
JM Sign Just Married Sign
PITA Pain In The Ass
RARA's Radical Animal Rights Activists
WG West Gate
LDPT *Lying Drunken Puppy Thief
SG South Gate

So it's no surprise that one of my favorite acronyms is RPRT. That would stand for Right Place, Right Time. That was me last week. I got called in because they were shorthanded. That means I was poaching, sort of. Poaching is when you sign up to work when there are already enough people working. See, if too many drivers are working then nobody makes any money. I wasn't poaching of my own accord. In fact they had to submit to my demands before I would agree to come in and work. So it was forced poaching. NMF (Not My Fault).

Anyway, I had two appointments that night, one at 6 pm which was the impetus for calling me in because they had three appointments and only two drivers. Then, as part of my compensation for hauling my ass all the way back downtown to work on a night when I didn't want to work because there's good stuff on TV, I was given another appointment at 8:30.

So I showed up, got Tony ready, pulled out bumpus POS (Piece Of Shit) carriage number 11 (because the wedding at 8:30 wanted a black carriage) instead of my usual white/in excellent condition (because I take care of it) #2 and went with Kar (AKA; BB, Darwin's Satanic Imp) to SG where we stood around and did nothing from 4:45-5:45 when we had to leave for our respective appointments. I arrived at Mac Gril (Macaroni Grill) took my passengers on their romantic ½ hour ride where he got down on his knees and proposed, then went back to SG.

I was the only carriage at SG and had all of about 4 minutes of standing around and was in fact trying to pull my Jimmy Jammers (one of the many nicknames we have for insulated Carhartt overalls) on when a young man approached me.

"I'm proposing to my girlfriend tonight and I want to take a carriage ride in a half an hour," he said.

I looked at my watch; 6:40. "If you want to guarantee a carriage will be here you need to pay in advance and I'll make sure someone is available for your reservation," I replied.

"Fine," he said, whipping out a credit card. We settled on a City Creek ride ($50), which is much nicer than a City Tour ($40) but not as expensive as a Memory Grove ($60) and I filled out the credit slip. He advised that they would return to SG between 7:10-7:15 for the ride.

Right behind him were two women and a man. The older of the women (Mom, it turns out) asked about our rides and she settled on a City Tour. I looked at the time; 6:44. "I can do it," I said, "but I have to be back in time to do that man's proposal." I indicated the retreating backside of Mr. Soon-to-be-engaged.

"Oh, that's all right," Mom replied, "you can cut our ride short if you need to."

So, I took Mom, daughter and Uncle Bob around downtown. By this time, Kar and Newbie Driver were at SG, each having done their single appointment. I returned in time to pick up Mr. STBE, take him and his intended on their City Creek ride, and drop them off in front of JSB because they were having dinner at The Roof (a restaurant in JSB. It's on the 10th floor). Then I returned to SG.

Kar and Newbie were still at SG, still with only 1 ride each under their belts. I piddled around, went and used the john, chatted with Kar for a while, and then left for my appointment which was almost 7 blocks away. I picked up the B&G (Bride and Groom) (who looked to be all of 12 years old) and took them to LA. I must be getting old, everybody under the age of 30 looks 12 to me these days...

B&G exited my carriage and four people who had been checking with the doorman about a cab approached me, and their leader asked, "Are you available to take us to Spencer's?" (a restaurant in the Hilton.)

"Sure," I said, my mind whirling because I figured I would be deadheading back to the barn (I was allowed to go home once my second appointment was finished.) That was part of the "deal" that was crafted to get me to work that night. My kid was home alone, not feeling well, and I have a certain standard of gross and net which are within my acceptable parameters. In other words, I knew I was considered a poacher, albeit against my will, and I expect to make a certain amount of money when I go out, and if I don't achieve my goal I don't feel that it has been worth my time. I'd rather stay home and watch TV.

So for a nominal fee I took the party of four to Spencer's, continued on to the barn and was home by 11pm (the time my shift, had I not been given a special dispensation, would have been over.) The next day Ro advised me that Kar and Newbie went in with only the single ride each.

So, was my bottom line that evening (four full rides, one shuttle) due to my spectacular salesmanship? Not really. I didn't "sell" any of them. It was all a case of RPRT, which is Ok by me, although it made me a DRB because I did so well and I'm sure there was some grumbling about me being a LDPT. But that’s TFB.

*LDPT = I worked a uniformed security guard at Woodfield Mall in Schaumburg, Illinois back in the early 80s. Yes, I was a "Mall Cop." I worked undercover in Loss Prevention at TJ Maxx, and for the (really dating myself now) Woolco stores. I was also employed by a detective agency for a short time, until their contract with Northrop expired.

During my employment at the mall I was called to Noah's Ark pet store because a man came in, stole a puppy, and left. While I was taking the report he returned, drunk, with the dog. He and his buddies took it to a bar. The manager elected not to press charges since the dog was returned and unharmed. Then, while escorting the drunken puppy thief off the property, he asked me out. I consider the LDPT curse to be pretty heinous. Since we work in front of Temple Square we try not to drop the "F" bomb in front of the general public, so we have developed our "swear code" of acronyms.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Pappa's Got a Brand New Bag...

Thursday started off like most Thursdays do. Read the newspaper, coffee, checking e mail and blog status. I noticed on the Feedjit that someone visited from Murray, Kentucky by Googling "morgan freeman, d.v.m." He's our barn Vet. I didn't check the link, which I do sometimes because I'm 50% anal-retentive and 50% curious.

On a whim I called Ro, barn manager extraordinaire. She works Thursdays, Fridays and Mondays and sometimes I drive downtown and we have lunch together. Occasionally we are joined by MBA, The Fabulous Todd, or the carriage company owner, but today it was just the two of us.

During lunch I mentioned the Murray, Kentucky blog visitor. We hurried through our meal because she needed to get back to the carriage barn. Kid, one of the longest employees of Carriage for Hire, was being retired and Crazy Shelley, a driver of ours, was meeting us there at 1:00 pm to fill out the paperwork. Crazy Shelley, who is not as crazy as her name denotes, works for the Hippotherapy program where Kid was retiring. I guess retiring is not what happened to Kid, but for a carriage horse to go from working one or two days a week pulling carriage to walking around a soft arena with a little kid on his back an hour or two a day is the equivalent of a steelworker going from working the mills to becoming a greeter at Wal-Mart. Enough mental and physical exercise to keep them sharp, but not enough to wear them out. For Kid, who is broke to drive and ride and absolutely loves children, it's a perfect match.

When Crazy Shelley arrived I asked her about the program Kid was entering into. She told me it was called Courage Reins, and advised that Kid would be well cared for and loved. The love part is very important to us. (Right, Belle's Personal Assistant?) We do do love our equine co-workers, and it's good when they leave us for a place where they are showered with as much affection as they get from us. Marky-Mark, for example, will be heartbroken.

I had to leave, errands calling me away from my final fare-well to kid. But I took a couple of pictures with my cell phone for my virtual scrapbook.

Ro styled Kid's forelock. I think it’s called the "Sideshow Bob" look.

Anyway, I took off and went to Wal-Mart where I bought some lettuce starters. I had a big garden when we lived on the farm in Missouri, and miss the lettuce the most. Being able to walk out your door and pick a salad is handy and rewarding. I just don't eat enough greens these days.

When I returned home Ro called and asked if I could work; they were desperate, having booked three appointments all at 6pm and only having two drivers scheduled for the evening. So, after some whining and finagling, I agreed. But before I left the house to return downtown, where I had just been, I checked the Feedjit again, clicking on the Murray, Kentucky link out of that anal-retentive curiosity.

A Morgan Freeman, D.V.M. inquiry brings up only two links: Confessions of a Slave Driver, Cletus Master of the Urineverse and Courage Reins.

How freaky is that?

And, on a totally unrelated note, Carriage Driver Kar told me that last week she was explaining to some children what a horse's Chestnuts are. If you don't know, go here. Anyway, when she'd finished her lesson she was approached by a man who called her a "Blasphemous Blasphemer." You know, it's an evolution vs creation thing. She was mildly impressed that he could say it so fast without tripping over it like a tongue-twister.

So, from now on Carriage Driver Kar's nickname is "BB, Darwin's Satanic Imp."

Monday, March 9, 2009

Killing Me Softly

Killing my darlings

That’s what someone said editing out all the unnecessary words was akin to. That’s what I'm doing today, killing my darlings. It's supposed to make your work better, trimming 10% of the fat. Leaner, faster, more aerodynamic prose.

I hate it. It makes me feel like someone just crapped in my Cocoa-Puffs.
BUT, one of the writing groups I belong to has a contest and their short stories are required to be 2500 words or less. So, here I am, wasting valuable time watching clips from SNL on Hulu (I adore Hulu. It's the ultimate in couch potato sites. "What, were you too lazy to DVR the last episode of Burn Notice? Dude, it's on HULU!!!") or, you might have noticed, writing a blog, when I'm supposed to be doing a slash and burn on my apparently-not-short-enough short story.

So, for your reading pleasure, here is how I'm taking a story that starts at 3848 words and whittle it down to 2500 without totally making it sound like something my kid sent to me in a text message:

First, of course, all the adverbs must go. Then I cut all non-essential information. Then I do what in the film business they call "Cheating".

A couple of = several
Hear that= understand
Are required to be= must be
I took= taking

See? It's tedious. And then my characters all have to speak in contractions- no full sentences. That way we kill off all of the Wills and Nots and Haves reducing the "I have" to "I've". One word. And I need to cut out 1348 of them and still have it make sense. Still have it make you feel.

Grrr, it's like thinning out your grocery cart so you can squeeze into the 10 items or less line when you have a Nazi for a cashier.

Now, this is what cheezes me the most: It's called a writers "voice". Those of you who do not know me for reals, I write exactly the way I talk. And I have a very distinctive, very recognizable speaking voice.

Keeping your voice
is very important.
Otherwise you're just
another pretty face

So, having to chop out my personal spin on the language I use is torturous. And, of course, having to limit the amount I talk to boot.

Oh look, it's 5:00 pm.

I love daylight savings time. Happy Hour comes that much sooner. Maybe I can high-lite/cut better under the influence of wine.

And don't let your darlings play in my yard, because I can't guarantee their safety.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

"Bill, There Are Strange Things Afoot at the Circle K"

"I don't want you taking no more stinking pictures of me!!!"

It's been an odd week.

Monday morning my neighbor called. Her ex is a cop. She advised me to go into lockdown mode because some suicidal nutjob was walking around our neighborhood, sporting a handgun. I had to go outside and bring the old blind/deaf dog in. It's difficult to keep a low profile if you're standing out in the backyard in your jammies yelling "COWBOY!!! Get your ass in the house!!!"

I wasn't scared. After all, my home protection equipment includes a deaf/blind/circling the drain Border collie whose gas passing could subdue even the most hardened of criminals, and the accessory dog, a Pomeranian, who I could easily throw at an intruder. Believe me, her breath would knock you out. Plus I have a gun. I just can't remember where I put it. Someplace safe, I'm sure. Eventually they found said nutjob, all in one piece, the next street over. The last time something like this happened a mountain lion was three doors down.


Tuesday I went to see how Stan was doing. He's still attached to Dreamer's leg. I was without an assistant, so I had to squat, hold camera with right hand, hold apple with left hand, take picture and avoid having my fingers munched. Naturally, in the midst of this my phone rings, Dreamer lobs apple spuz at my hair, and my pinky gets bit.
It was Ro. She wanted to meet for lunch.
More apples, please...

Later, back home, a young woman came to the door. I think she was selling some magazine thing…she kept talking about points and 200 children and a contest; her patter was very smooth and practiced…I was distracted by her tongue stud, which made her sound like she had a cue ball lodged in her mouth. Now, I'm sure I was staring, and sometimes when I get fixated on a thing I appear to have major retardation problems. She kept instructing me to open or flip the brochure and since I had a difficult time comprehending WTF she was saying, the girl would snatch it from my grasp and open or flip according to the rest of her spiel.

Finally, unable to take the mush mouth hard sell I said, "I don't want any magazines."

She yanked her brochure away from me and said, "Well, it's not about the magazines, it's about the children!" Real snotty like.

I guess that was supposed to make me feel bad. Unbeknownst to her…I don't like other people's children. I am turning into the lady that yells at kids for playing in my yard and confiscates the softballs that are lobbed over the fence. She would have been better off plying me with liquor or puppies. Oh well, her loss.

Wednesday I was Juror number 64705568. Since Friday night I have had to call a phone number every evening after 5PM to see if I was needed the next day. Tuesday night I was the lucky winner. In the morning I arrived at the appointed time (8:30) with a book (highly recommended) in "appropriate attire" (business casual) to do my civic duty. This is not a problem for me, remember, I don't have a "real" job. And they were giving me $18 just to show up. Jackpot!

No, I was not picked. In fact, none of us even got in because the case was continued. So, after 2.5 hours, we were dismissed.

Now, allow me a moment to comment on Appropriate Attire; Business Casual. Apparently, the term "Business Casual" is purely subjective. And, quite frankly, I can see where it would be. After all, who is setting the standard? For me, business casual means I wear black jeans, a white button down collared shirt, and ditch the Tuxedo jacket. Business formal, of course, would require the Tux and a tie along with my hat.

I dressed in khakis, nice blouse, Armani jacket (Hey, don't get all excited, I got it at DI for $8) and shoes without horse crap embedded in them. In other words, respectable looking.

Now, you run, say, an investment firm, business casual might be dress pants and a Oxford shirt, no tie, maybe a sport coat to complete the ensemble. Conversely, if you run, say, the Tilt-A-Whirl, business casual might be greasy jeans and a Motley Crue t-shirt with less than 3 battery acid holes. So, see? Purely subjective.

And I gotta say, way more roustabouts than investment bankers there. Although at this point in economic time I could be wrong. They might all be dressing about the same.

Monday, March 2, 2009

I'm Bad, I'm Nationwide

Moscow. That's right, MOSCOW, and I'm not talking Moscow freakin' Idaho, here, either.

One of the most fun aspects of keeping this blog going is tracking who stops by for a visit. I mean, why you stop by to read my divinely written prose drivel is your business/problem/part of a 12 step program, not mine. I often wonder what makes you waste time that could be better spent watching a "Sham-Wow" infomercial, or in my case, coaxing that delicious "squeak" and refreshing "pop" out of a bottle of wine, but hey, it's your internet connection not mine. So I have that Feedjit tracker thing and it tells me some stuff like what search criteria was used (Oh man I am SO not going into details about that) what time you showed up, what pictures you looked at, where you skipped out to two-time me with another blog, but mostly how you got here.

Oslo, Norway (Nope, don't know anyone there. I'm sure your English is far better than my Norsk, although I do a mean Minnesota accent, don' cha know…)

Was it word of mouth? Was it from The Jumping Percheron Blog? Did my mother make you?

You see the Hawaii and Wyoming visitors are mostly Stacey and Belle's Personal Assistant, two former co-workers of mine. They stop by for gossip and pictures/news of their favorite former co-worker (and we're talking the equines here, they have no interest in pictures of me.) Occasionally my family shows up (Tucson/California/pockets of Illinois) but that’s only under coercion. My friend who lives in Beverly Hills, Florida stops by for a visit to see what kind of a mess I've gotten myself into now (she is the Ethel to my Lucy.) And a few of the volunteers from Sundance and carriage company co-workers drop in to see which end of town they should avoid…

Tampa, Florida (my brother used to live there. I visited several times. Before I die I'm going for Gasparilla Day… It sounds like fun. Like a Gay Pride parade but with a lot more swashbuckling, tights, and "Arrgh!")

So what, I wonder, brought you here, and more important, why do you keep coming back. A few of you are fellow carriage driver in other parts of the country, so for you it's about the closest thing we have to a "Professional Organization", except now that the New Yorkers have joined the Teamsters, I guess I'm a scab. Utah is a right to work state, and we're the only game in town, so there you go.

United States (Okay, that could be anyone. So it depends on the operating system.)

Ro, for example, doesn't visit regularly because she has to listen to me go on and on and on until her ears bleed, live and in person. And besides, her internet connection is not much better than two tin cans and some kite string.

My imaginary friend Dusty stops by because I pay her. (She knows 1. I'm kidding, and 2. I'm weird) But what she doesn't know is that someday her real name will be on the acknowledgements page of my novel. She also knows that I'm anal-retentive which totally explains why I check that Feedjit thing like folks down south watch CBN.

Brisbane, Queensland (Nope, I only know that they were searching for the lyrics to "New Slang", so in my book that makes them okay-dokey because I really like the Shins.)

So I guess in the interest of satisfying my curiosity I need to know:

How did you get here? Stork bring ya? Random hit on Blogger? Did you run across a picture of Charlie's bubble butt and decide to stick around? Do you get my blog delivered fresh and hot to your email in box? Just curious, I don't judge.

Whatever the reason, it's okay. You're welcome to stay. On Fridays we have an extended happy hour and use souvenir Chicago Cubs baseball bats to beat the snot out of a Donkey shaped piƱata filled with plastic airplane-sized bottles of booze. The one who leaves with the most bottles wins.

My own Private Idaho

First, we're going to start with a key.

In an effort to be good Americans and help stimulate the economy, we purchased a new truck this weekend. Not only that, but we drove over 1400 miles round trip, stayed in 2 motels, ate at 3 restaurants (and tipped the waitress) in order to do it. So I believe that we have done our part. The rest of you's need to get on the stick.

Why did we buy a new truck? Well, one reason is that in December, right around Christmas, I lost my "big" key ring. I have 2 sets, one with just the garage door opener fob & Jeep key and the other has everything , you know, EVERYTHING. All those annoying "Tabs" they give you to scan at the places you frequent. Blockbuster tab, Albertsons tab, Office Max perks tab, library card, etc. That one. Twice a week I went to Wal-Mart (because that's where I thought I lost it) and asked if anyone had turned it in. What I have learned about Wal-Mart is; they have a drawer by the cash registers where the things that have been found go. However, once the keys have been around for a while they migrate into a box they keep behind the counter at the service desk. Apparently, this box is a well kept secret, because on several of my visits I had to tell the service desk employee where they could find the treasure chest so I could paw through it, hoping that my keys had turned up there. You see, besides a key to my Jeep, which is a simple thing that looks like, well, a Key, and costs $1.06 at True Value to copy, the high tech keyless entry and ignition key to our Dodge truck was on that key ring. When my big key ring went AWOL I refused to get a new Dodge key because it costs $90.00 for that type. I also kept hoping that it would turn up at Wal-Mart. I am an eternal optimist.

I did eventually find my key ring. No, not at Wally-World, but in my front yard. Apparently I dropped it whilst assisting Mr. Slave Driver with snow removal. He, in turn, unknowingly sucked it through the snow blower, which launched it into our front yard. It sat, buried under the avalanche of accumulated driveway snow, for a month.

Lesson learned? Keys with remote keyless entry functions do not fare well in a cold, moist climate. Of course running through the churning snow blower was not exactly good for them, either.

Anyway, it started with a key, and then we decided that repair costs and other factors validated our new vehicle purchase. So, Mr. Slave Driver did some research, took care of all the financing information, and off to Kellogg, Idaho we went to visit one of the highest volume car dealers in the United States.

Now, I have long subscribed to the theory that it is, indeed, a small world. I have numerous examples of this, but here is one: My friend and I, on vacation from Chicago, were sunning ourselves on a beach on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. A man walked up to my friend and asked, "Aren’t you the waitress at the Pickwick restaurant in Park Ridge, Illinois?" Yes, she was. He was a regular customer.

So it was really no surprise to me that as Mr. Slave Driver and I dined on lunch at the Perkins Restaurant in Pocatello, Idaho, in walked Omar.
Omar is the projectionist for the Rose Wagner Theater during the Sundance Film Festival. That is the venue I volunteer at. Every year, for ten days, I see Omar. It was no surprise to me because we were only a couple of hours away from home. Had I seen him at a diner in Chicago, I would have astonished.

Now, for those of you unfamiliar with the American west, there are vast stretches of land with little or nothing to see. Except, of course, land.

On part of our journey we cross the Lava Fields in Idaho. The first time we drove through this area I had no idea what the hell it was. It looked like black rocks. But there is a rest stop with the geological information right around mile 100 on I-15. Very interesting stuff.

Also, further along, up into Montana (to get to where we were going you drive through Utah, Idaho, Montana, and then back into Idaho. That’s what Idaho gets for being such an odd shaped state) there are vast areas of pasture land. This is the place where "The deer and the antelope play." We saw both deer and antelope, but I must admit I never saw them play together.

Those beige dots are Antelope.

The car dealership takes up most of the small town of Kellogg. Our salesperson advised us that since the mine closed, this business is the biggest employer around. I believe it.

So, after what seemed like an eternity of waiting around, we finally got our new vehicle. Having a nice long ride home gave us time to read the manual and check out all the cool new equipment. But my favorite is the key.
They gave us this thing, and I said, "WTF?"

But you stick it in the ignition and it starts the car. Then, if you want to lock your car and walk away so it warms up, you do this:

And voila! You have a key.

I hope it'll pass the snowblower test. The old one didn't do so good...